A shower of thuds startles Sarah, earning her odd look from her companions. They had obviously not heard it. Under the pretence of adjusting them Sarah touched the tent poles.
Fire arrows! someone shouted.
Sarah swallowed having recognized the King as being the second voice. That meant the sounds she was hearing came from the barracks where Jason was. Had he strapped tent poles to his back so that she could hear him?
Jason’s voice came through strong as he recited the Scout pledge in chorus with many others. Just as they finished a loud crack thundered in her head. Letting the poles go noise subsided. Not that it kept her from feeling the surge of fierceness that filled Jason.
Despite the fact that touching the poles caused the sounds from the barracks to block the sounds of her own surroundings, Sarah couldn’t help touching them. As long as she heard Jay fighting she knew things were all right. Reed and Aaron continually exchanged glances around her, but neither said anything until they stopped for a short rest very late that afternoon.
“If the tent poles bothers you, I can carry them,” Reed offered.
Sarah shook her head. “They’re fine.” She touched them again; the fight carried on.
Once the canteens were filled they were off again, this time going until darkness halted them. A small fire pit was made and Sarah wandered off to gather herbs. She was half tempted to take a pole with her. It was her only connection to Jay and the fight was still going on. How long could a battle last, she wondered. Her pouch was half full when Reed, Marcus and Aaron accosted her in the woods.
“Smith, are you sure you’re okay?” Reed spoke first, placing a kind hand on her shoulder.
“I’m fine.” She shook his hand off her shoulder and bent down to pick some parsley. Truth was she wasn’t because she hadn’t brought a pole and had no idea how Jay fared. But she was supposed to be male; not care that much about him. They clearly didn’t believe her.
“Something’s bothering you,” Marcus spoke. “You did see a burning Willow.” His tone was borderline obnoxious.
Sarah could tell he was trying to goad her. Goad her into doing what? Confess she didn’t follow their religion? “Yes I did,” she replied curtly as she stood.
“Disturbing wasn’t it?” he continued.
Sarah looked Marcus in the eye and took one step towards him. Keep your temper she reminded herself. “Would you like me to confess my sins now or later? Perhaps we ought to focus on keeping the Prince safe, seeing as the enemy is attacking the Barracks as we speak.”
Sarah brushed between Marcus and Aaron and hurried back to camp.
“Smith,” Reed called as they hurried after her.
Sarah ignored Reed and Aaron’s concerned looks as she began to crush herbs to make a paste. Before either of them could speak Marcus came up with Prince Theodoso. The Prince thrust the bundle of tent poles at her.
They are through the second barricade! She heard Mathew call out as poles touched her. Sarah grabbed them and set them beside her.
“What do you want?” She glanced at the four people gathered around her.
“Well,” Reed started but the Prince cut him off with a wave of his hand.
“Are you are connected to Phoenix?” he demanded to know in a hushed whisper.
He pushed the poles so they touched Sarah.
Light the arrows! Another of voice called out.
She pushed them away unable to stand the cacophony of sounds that came through. How many men did the General have with him? How in the world had they made it so far without detection? Wasn’t that why there were Scout Troops, to keep something like this from happening?
Prince Theodoso kept touching her with the sticks as she tried to focus on cooking. Each time they touched her the fighting sounded closer and she’d push them away.
“Are you connected to Phoenix?" the Prince asked again and again.
Finally able to take no more Sarah grabbed the poles and tossed them away, startling a few of the scouts nearby. Marcus quickly retrieved them for the Prince and they were held out to her again.
“Fine, so what if I am your Highness,” she hissed. “Are you going to accuse the both of us for treason when at this instance he is defending your Father with his life?"
Phoenix Arise! Jason’s voice rang clear Let not an arrow nor sword touch our King.
Sarah felt her face go pale.
“What?” the Prince asked leaning in closer, as did Reed, Aaron and Marcus.
“The King is under direct attack.” She could hear the King shouting commands. “Phoenix Troop is defending him along with others,” she spoke through clenched teeth.
Sarah stood and began to leave the circle unable to bear hearing anymore. Glancing up to where the moon was rising, she saw something glint in the darkness. Suddenly the air was filled savage yells echoing from all around them.
“AMBUSH!” A Scout’s voice cut through the din.
Sarah whipped around, tackling the Prince to the ground as the first arrows thudded around them.